Over 80% of the world’s population now uses natural and homeopathic remedies. In the U.S. less than half the population uses homeopathic medicine or alternative remedies. However, these numbers are quickly rising and are becoming a challenge and major competitor to pharmaceutical drugs.
Pharmaceutical drug companies, thanks to the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) of 1992, are charged by the FDA for each new drug application. As of 2014, that fee had risen to $2,169,100 per application [Forbes magazine]. Whether this money is being used to help employ more researchers in the FDA with new drug application reviews, or whether this money unduly influences and compromises the regulatory decision-making in the recent explosion of new drug approvals, many of which provide no improvement over existing drugs already on the market … having a regulatory agency benefiting in any way from a fee-based application process does leave you with some doubt. Also, the fact remains that the FDA receives no funding from the natural remedy industry. So, follow the money and usually you can discover the alliances.
Homeopathy was first used by Samuel Hahnemann who was looking for an alternative to mainstream medicine’s use of bloodletting, purging, opium, heroine, and snake meat to treat common ailments and disease.
References to homeopathy go back as far as 400 B.C. to Hippocrates’ experimentation with root medicines in small doses to treat mania. Samuel Hahnemann based his doctrine of like cures like (similia similibus curentur), whereby a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people. Though a novel approach over 200 years ago, modern medicine adopted this concept when it uses very small dilutions of substances that can cause harm, in order to treat conditions and disease. For example, snake bite medicine uses the venom from snakes; polio and flu shots use diluted and inactivated concentrations of the original germ to cause the immune system to respond; and even allergy shots take small doses of the original allergen and inject it into your body to cause you to lose your reaction over time.
However, if you now take this proven methodology and call it – Homeopathy – where it is now a competitor to pharmaceutical drugs, then the pharmaceutical companies, the FDA, and their supporters who have financial interest in limiting competition rise to the attack. The cause is in homeopathic medicine’s easy availability and low price. A homeopathic medicine may only cost between $5-10/bottle and does not require a prescription.
If you combine the key arguments of the special interest groups opposed to homeopathy you would see a combination of these descriptions summarized in Wikipedia:
Homeopathy lacks biological plausibility, and its axioms are contradicted by scientific facts. The postulated mechanisms of action of homeopathic remedies are both scientifically implausible and physically impossible. Although some clinical trials produce positive results, systematic reviews reveal that this is because of chance, flawed research methods, and reporting bias. Continued homeopathic practice, despite the evidence that it does not work, has been criticized as unethical because it discourages the use of effective treatments, with the World Health Organisation warning against using homeopathy to try to treat severe diseases such as HIV and malaria. The continued practice of homeopathy, despite a lack of evidence of efficacy, has led to it being characterized within the scientific and medical communities as nonsense, quackery, and a sham.
Hahnemann believed that large doses of drugs that caused similar symptoms would only aggravate illness. He advocated extreme dilutions of the substances. He devised a technique for making dilutions that he believed would preserve a substance’s therapeutic properties while removing its harmful effects. In contrast, it is estimated that between 10,000 – 100,000 (depends upon who you believe) Americans die each year from taking pharmaceutical drugs: from the doctor making a mistake with his prescription or prescribing the wrong drug or dose; the pharmacist making a mistake in filling the prescription; or the patient accidentally overdosing.
If you or your family were faced with taking chemotherapy for advanced cancer, and knew that the medicine had an equal chance of reducing your likely lifespan while adding some horrendous side-effects, would you have a different perspective about the people promoting these very expensive drugs who are also critical of Homeopathy? Yet despite the mounting evidence of chemotherapy’s lack of effectiveness in prolonging survival, oncologists continue to present chemotherapy as a rational and promising approach to cancer treatment. Homeopathy does not claim to cure cancer, but it also does not cause it. Homeopathy helps the body’s own immune system to strengthen along with good nutrition and lifestyle to help it to heal itself.
Believe me, these topics are more difficult to write than they are for you to read. So as a contrast, we take a dive inside the volcano in the center of Santorini. The water is perfectly clear and there are no fish because the gases seeping from the volcano are toxic. However, it makes for an interesting exploration … never to be repeated there again. After a few hours, visiting rock formations in cold water is not fun.